The Pride of the Church

I’ve always found it funny that my birthday is the same month as Pride Month. I actually find it somewhat hilarious. Why? For several reasons, actually.

Number One: I’m a follower of Christ and an ordained minister.

Number Two: I used to literally hate that my birthday was in the month of June until about four and a half years ago.

Number Three: My views about Pride Month could possibly get that ordination stripped away. For the first time, however, I’m going to share them publicly.

There are two serious conversations that the Evangelical church needs to have. One is within the walls of the church about grace, and the second is with someone in the LGTBQ community about understanding. For the duration of this article, I’m going to explain why.

Why Grace?

The question should be, why not grace? The book of Ephesians (chapter 4) and the book of Colossians (chapter 4) say not to let any form of malicious speech come from our mouths.

The book of Titus (chapter 2) clearly states that God’s grace brings salvation to all people. There is no condition on it.

Here is why I say that: the very foundation of the Evangelical faith is a gracious, unconditional love that surpasses all. Full stop.

That is the most important piece of everything we do. The foundation of our faith literally requires us to love without conditions because Christ loves us without conditions. There was no if/then clause stated in scripture. That’s something that the Church inserted. Now, I know what you might be thinking…

“The actions that are produced by selfish motives are obvious since they include sexual immorality, moral corruption, doing whatever feels good, idolatry, drug use and casting spells, hate, fighting, obsession, losing your temper, competitive opposition, conflict, selfishness, group rivalry, jealousy, drunkenness, partying, and other things like that. I warn you, as I have already warned you, that those who do these kinds of things won’t inherit God’s kingdom.”

The fifth chapter of Galatians is very, VERY clear. So is every other scripture that talks about sin, specifically sexual immorality. Do you know what else is very, VERY clear? The first epistle of John. Specifically, in chapter five where John said, Every unrighteous act is sin.”

My Bible says that you cannot be gay and be a Christian.” Those were honestly some of the most hateful words I think I’ve ever spoken, and at that time, I said them proudly. I was 100% wrong. I was out of line. And I sometimes cry when I think about the disgusting sentence that flew from my mouth.

We’re so quick to be judgemental over people’s lives, especially my fellow pastors that we neglect the heart of God for his people. Yes, sin is present, but the key is to understand that sin is present everywhere and making the choice to love regardless. Refusing to do that is essentially showing favoritism.

Showing favoritism would mean we’re directly in violation of James 2, which talks about how showing favoritism is a sin. I’ve seen a church disregard and essentially excommunicate a homosexual man yet make attempts to cover up, forgive and write off a literal affair between two members of the church. One of whom was on staff. Is one better than the other? No. Sin is equally wrong in God’s eyes, so who are we to pick and choose between one or the other? 

Let me ask a question. If someone came into your church and was a model citizen, is an excellent mentor, tithes, does community work, lives a perfect life, etc., but his only blemish was having a different sexual orientation than you would like, would you turn them away or would you welcome them as Christ welcomed the woman at the well? You know, the woman from John chapter four who lived an adulterous life and was pretty much an outcast in her town? The same woman who he used to start a revival in her hometown. Or the adulterous woman in John chapter eight who was to be stoned, and Christ said, “Whoever hasn’t sinned should throw the first stone.” I could honestly go on and on about this, but the next thing I’ll talk about is understanding.

Why Understanding?

With the topic of understanding and talking to someone in the LGBTQ+ community about understanding their choices and walk of life, I’ll keep it very simple. As followers of Christ, we should immediately understand that not everyone lives how we do, even fellow believers. As followers of Christ, we should also be willing to love even when we don’t understand. Why? Simply put, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear expects punishment. The person who is afraid has not been made perfect in love. We love because God first loved us.” That’s a direct quote from the fourth chapter of the first epistle of John.

Willingness to love others doesn’t require an immediate understanding of their life choices. It does require, however, an immediate openness to learning, gaining understanding, and loving, regardless of whether you agree or not. 

If my child, who I would die for, decided she wanted to be part of the LGBTQ+ community, then it would be my honor as her father to love her, walk with her, and embrace who she chooses into my family. Because before anything else, I am a man of God, and that is what should influence my decisions. Not my fear of someone’s choices due to my lack of understanding.

I don’t know where this leaves me in the eyes of many. To be 100% honest, I don’t care. What I do care about is how well I love God’s people. I am committed to that before I’m committed to church doctrine. My beliefs are fueled by Biblical principles and not a hatred towards a group of people – the keyword is people – that the Church continues to marginalize. 

As pastors, weekly, we preach the words of people who were honestly some of the worst of the worst. Paul, a murderer of Christians. Peter, a disciple of Christ with anger issues. David was a liar, murderer, adulterer, and more; yet he was the only man who God called “a man after my own heart.” We preach stories of sinners who did amazing things for Christ, yet we turn away the ones who can reach a group of people that we have no relationship with. I just find that funny.

I’ve been forgiven for too much in life to turn my back on anyone. We cannot claim to want to love like Jesus if we won’t see people as he did. And we can’t be the hands and feet of Jesus without actually being the hands and feet. I don’t, and you don’t have to agree to love. We should just love unconditionally. That’s my take on it, anyway. Maybe I’m wrong, but so far, I have yet to see anything that suggests otherwise.

“Whoever hasn’t sinned should throw the first stone.”

About Author

A Los Angeles native, AJ grew up watching sports from the age of two and his love for basketball and football never died. He started playing sports at age seven and went on through collegiate and minor league levels (local and overseas) as well. After nearly twenty years of athletics, AJ decided to hang it up and retired from minor league football in June of 2018. Since then, he has continued his love of sports by writing for the Suave Report as a sports and culture contributor as well as coaching and refereeing sports in the OKC metro area. He currently lives with his wife, Beth and daughter, Gianna in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, working as a coach and gym owner.

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